By Peter Lynch

4th Apr, 2023 | 5:33pm

Ollie Watkins completely transformed under Unai Emery, Aston Villa striker underperformed under Steven Gerrard

Aston Villa star Ollie Watkins is thriving under Unai Emery, with the striker taking his game to a whole new level compared to his time under Steven Gerrard.

Emery took over from Gerrard at Villa Park in October, with the club rising from 15th place to ninth place in the Premier League in his brief reign so far.

And key to that success has been star striker Watkins, who is helping drive his club towards the European places.

Watkins has scored eight goals since Emery took over, as well as chipping in with three assists, according to LiveScore.

The 27-year-old has had 18 shots on target, has created one big chance and has had 65 touches in the opposition box.

Moreover, the forward has now scored or recorded an assist in eight of his last nine Premier League games following his goal against Chelsea on Saturday (1 April), according to the official Aston Villa Twitter account.

Despite the superb statistics, Watkins is not content with his current tally, with the striker aiming to both hit 20 goals this season as well as securing a European spot for Aston Villa.

“I’m still not content with where I am at, I want more,” said Watkins, as quoted by LiveScore. “We’ve got a real understanding as a team now. The fans should be excited because we definitely are.

“I want to score 20 goals and I want to get into Europe. I want to be playing every Thursday next season.”

The forward currently sits on 11 goals for the season, with 10 of those coming in the Premier League, and one in the League Cup.

Managerless Leicester and fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest are up next for Villa, with many expecting Watkins to extend his total in the two matches.

The striker has more than handled the burden on his shoulders, with his attacking teammates failing to come alive in the final third more often than not this season.

After banging in 49 goals for Brentford, Watkins will be desperate to reach 50 goals for Aston Villa, with the striker needing just 12 more to hit that target.

And given his recent history, it won’t take long at all, with the forward one of just three players to have reached double figures for goals in the last three Premier League seasons, alongside Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah [OptaJoe].

In other Aston Villa news, the club have been urged to steer clear of a move for one ‘world-class’ former Premier League striker.